01 Express wins 5th Annual Thousand Islands Race
25 September 2017
Czech crew of Pavel Belehrad’s First 40.7 01 Express is the winner
of the 5th Annual Thousand Islands Race, organized by the Sailing
Club of Rijeka. The second 279.7 NM leg of this two-leg race started
on Thursday, 21 September from Porto Montenegro in Tivat and
finished on Sunday, 24 September in Rijeka. Like the first leg of
the race, this demonstrated again how conditions on the course among
more than one thousand Adriatic islands may be unpredictable, highly
variable, and require a lot of patience, strength and stamina.
The exit from the Bay of Kotor with favorable winds was this year a bit faster then last year. Immediately after passing Prevlaka, the most southern point of Croatia, the fleet encountered stronger north to northwest winds of up to 20 knots, requiring the fleet to beat upwind with increasing waves as one would expect in such an offshore regatta. The crew of the Hanse 540 Lucia X experienced difficulties in such conditions after their main halyard broke. A crew member climbed up the mast in an attempt to fix the failure but the wind was too strong to perform such repair and they were forced to return to leeward of Prevlaka where they successfully repaired the damage but with significant time lost.
Although wind predictions for this second leg were not promising everybody kept hoping that the breeze would last, which it did for the half of the second leg. After that, the conditions changed completely, with the wind dying out and the fleet having to fight with drifting conditions for the remaining 100 NM. The boats in the fleet tried to use every breath of the fickle winds to achieve speeds from 0 to 3-4 knots, requiring a strenuous effort over two days and two nights.
The time limit in Rijeka was set for 72 hours, which was Noon on Sunday 24 September. On Sunday morning the fleet was from 9 to 20 NM away from the finish line and at 9 o'clock in the morning the whole Kvarner Bay was in the lull and it seemed impossible that anyone would finish before 12 o'clock.
However, like magic a «Nevera from Kvarner» (a summer storm typical for Kvarner Bay) emerged and saved the day, bringing a «Bura» (northeasterly wind) that first helped the X-55 Mardivino helmed by Miguel Gonzales to cross the finish line first at 09:45:47 hours thus validating the second leg and enabling all other boats to finish by 1400 hours.
With little real time finishing differences, under corrected time the best placed boats were the three that crossed the finish line last. Overall results show how the race was equal and that the winner was decided after the second lap of 279 NM by only minutes in corrected time.
So, being the slowest-rated in this fleet, it was Pavel Belehrad’s Czech-based Redside Sailing Team on their chartered First 40.7 01 Express that won the second leg, and combined with a fifth place in first leg was awarded the overall winner title with 6 points. Trailing by one point was the Chilean X-55 Mardivino skippered by Miguel Gonzales, winning a tie-break with Boštjan Jančar’s Slovenian First 40.7 Macropus, followed by Anatolii Evdokimov’s Lithuanian Evento 42 Hispaniola in fourth.
Another Josef Muzikar’s Czech crew on the First 40.7 Sultan, also chartered in Croatia, won 5th place with 8 points - the first five places thus decided in only two points difference.
In the Multihull division Werner Stoltz’s Proteus finished in Rijeka at 12:52:10 hours on Sunday, but had no competitors after his competitors in this division opted to not sail the second leg.